I love my little girl so much. She makes me smile. Whenever she gives me a hug and snuggles up to me, the world stands still.
I truly am ashamed of my parents. Truly.
After many arguments, fights and tears between themselves, acted out in front of all us children to see, without much consideration as to how it affected us all…
Today my dad told me my mum wanted a divorce. He also told me a bit more about the past. Things I wasn’t aware of at the time during my childhood. When I was 8, my maternal grandmother came all the way from Malaysia to take my mum back to Malaysia with her. And us kids? Well it seemed we were not even considered at all. My mum and her family were certainly not bothered. They were prepared to just take her back. Whatever happened to the kids afterwards was clearly just an afterthought.
Then my maternal grandmother went to ask my paternal grandmother if she could take my mum back to Malaysia with her. My maternal grandmother said no. My maternal grandmother went back to Malaysia alone while my mum stayed behind.
Now it’s not clear why my mother decided not to return to Malaysia with her mum. After all, she is a free woman and need not pay heed to my paternal grandmother’s opinion. Either my mother stayed on because she was racked with guilt about trumping her own wish to leave with the thought of us kids being left behind without her and with just my paternal family to look after us; or she decided not to risk losing half of my dad’s assets if she divorced him first. See it does seem the case to me that if the man divorces his wife, and wanted it first, he loses half his assets to her. However if the wife wants the divorce first, then she doesn’t get any.
I hate to say this but knowing my mother, I think she stayed on for the second reason more than the first, though she is not so heartless as to not feel sad about abandoning her children.
But if you asked me if I was happy with her decision to stay put, I’d tell you “Hell, no!”
My mum was a nutcase. She was an absolute horror to live with. She was depressed at the state of her life. She blamed me and she blamed me often for the life she had. Nothing I did was ever good enough for her. My earliest memories of her was she never played with me or spoke to me as a toddler. She would punish me a lot for trivial things. Truth be told, I was always a fighter. Even as a tiny child I was daring and precocious. I had a strong sense of self and I refuse to be punished by her (or anyone else) in every which way. I had my moments of mischief and duly got punished for them, but never without putting up a good fight. My mum was troubled with the state of her marriage, and she started talking to herself by the time I was 8. I think she found me impossible to handle. But it was not my fault. I have always been this way. Perhaps I was spoilt. I know my mum was virtually absent during my first few years of life. I was always in my paternal grandma’s home, and my uncles, aunties and cousin often played with me and showed me lots of affection and care.
In short, my paternal family were always the best to me. They taught me I was worthy of being loved. They showed me what normality was. My mum was a feckless and volatile woman, who seemed confused and contradictory. She seemed uncertain of her purpose in life. Wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a mother or not. Had one kid after another. Wasn’t sure if she wanted to work hard at a career or be a stay at home mum. Became a stay home mum but then grudgingly held it against us kids for “forcing” her to live a life she “never wanted to live” – that would be raising a family as a housewife.
You know, her life is such a fucking mess.
It’s not messed up as in, she’s financially destitute. Because finances were why she stayed with dad all this time despite hating him and not speaking nor sleeping in the same room with him for years. My dad earned his keep. He slogged hard at work all his life, took a lot of shit, had reasonable intelligence and luck, earned good money and retired with a nice pay package. But. And this is a big but. He is an asshole. I’ll be honest about it. No illusions. Yes he was an asshole. He was not a very nice person and can be very selfish. He wasn’t a caring husband nor a doting father. He was quite controlling and bigoted. Though abusive, he was not. I was always taught by him that I was free to make whatever decisions I wanted in my life. Only thing was consequences. If I don’t study hard, he would reduce my pocket money. My pocket money was already pathetic peanuts anyway. He was a Scrooge of a dad. No wonder I was itching to finish studying and come out to work. He was disappointed but he couldn’t stop me. Gawd I was glad to have been out of his financial clutches when I started making money for myself. No more having to listen to his endless shitty speeches when I’m trying to do my homework… no more having to listen to him drone on about how my life is going to be doomed if i don’t do things his way. Fuck that! When I gained financial freedom from him, I felt like I was shoving two fingers up at him. Plus I no longer had to stay home. Yeah. Thinking about his fucking endless sarcastic rants at midnight when I was trying to concentrate doing my art diploma – a diploma that he was telling me was worthless and that I am a good for nothing for doing it. What a fucking asshole. Fuck that, dad. You had your chance at being a dad to me and you blew it, you!
My parents have both been at this mean game with each other for so long. I mean I’m 35 now and they’ve been like this since I was as old as I could remember. None of them wants to let up. Oh and you know why? Because of money. My mum wants my dad to divorce her so she gets half his assets. My dad refuses to divorce her because he doesn’t want to give over half his assets. So she makes sure his life is hell and he gives it back as good as he gets.
This is fucking nonsense.
And honestly all I can say is that my mum really should just let it go now. It’s her stupid pride and her insecurities that’s behind all of her actions from the past to the present. For whatever reason, she never made it career wise. She is insecure around people. She lacks confidence. I think living with someone like my dad just made this worse. And because she failed to make a good career for herself, AND she was nasty to her kids when she was raising them, she is fearful of old age. She knows her kids may not want to care for her (to Asian people of her generation and older, having to go to an elderly care home when they can no longer look after themselves is still the stuff of nightmares and horror stories). She knows she hasn’t made enough money of her own to support herself. She needs my dad, financially. And I bet she hates her life, hates her situation, every fucking day.
She’s made her own bed now and she must lie in it.
And what a trail of destruction she’s left behind.
My journey into self recovery from living with her shit has been a long, slow road. Why it was just only 2 days ago when I took yet another step towards healing. I had been researching my career options. At 35, I’m no spring chicken and there are some career paths which I have to admit, although I might have done fairly well enough in if given a chance, will never be open to me again. Like research work, for instance, in science.
But the turning point for me was when I was trying to draft a Personal Statement up for the University UCAS form. Yes I thought maybe I should get back to Uni and study something. Academics are my strong point. Yet I realised actually all the things I’ve had an interest in from young – psychology, theology, archaeology – they were all my early efforts at finding an explanation for my tortured relationship with my mother. More importantly, I was really self-blaming. I blamed myself for my mother’s hatred of me, which was wrong because she is the one to blame for the way she treated her own daughter. She is to blame for not taking responsibility for her actions and life and just blaming it on her children for inconveniencing her.
It’s sad but for so long I really thought that there must be something bad or wrong about me for my mother to act that way towards me. When I realised just how many years of effort I had put in towards trying to understand my mother, all these hours of reading up psych, archaeology, philosophy and theology, just so I could maybe gain some insight as to why she treated me the way she did and how perhaps I was to blame… well I realised it was a futile search. How many hours of thought and study have I put in to try and understand myself and my mum? Just to come to the conclusion that she was just fucked up in the head. Nothing more to it. She did what she did because she was simply fucked up inside and had no certainty about what she wanted to do or where she wanted to go. She was simply feckless. But I took it all along to be something much deeper or profound than that. Nope. I was wrong all along. There was nothing profound or deep about the reasons why she treated me badly. She was simply confused and feckless and just drifting along unwillingly in the current of a stormy emotional sea, and she didn’t give a damn who or what she drags along with her into her own personal hell. I was simply caught up in it, through no fault nor choice of my own.
And with that realization, I finally could let go. 2 days ago, it was. I was simply fed up of it. I am shocked and disgusted at how many years of my life I’ve spent trying to get over my mother’s rejection. Enough is enough. She was fucked up, end of. There was simply no good reason for her to have done what she did to me. None. I am just walking away from her. Walking away from her forever. She doesn’t deserve me. Doesn’t deserve all that time and effort I’ve spent trying to find an excuse for her, giving her the benefit of the doubt. She is screwed up. And she very nearly took me with her to screwed-up-land too.
Now my previous preoccupations don’t seem so interesting to me anymore. I am still interested in the theology bit but I realise it’s just a bit of a dead end lead. Trying to find the meaning in life and why things happen the way they do is futile. For we can never know the real truth… but theology can be like the little lights that brighten up the path along the way with little signposts. They might lead you to nowhere or they might lead you somewhere. It doesn’t matter.
But today, after my father explained some of the past to me, it was the nail in the coffin for me with regards to me and my mum. I am now 100% certain it was never my fault for what my mum did. I cannot to be blamed for the way my mother treated me.
I know my strengths and weaknesses now. And I’m going to pursue my strengths. I was born with them and I’m going to make the best use of them. I’m starting a new life afresh with this new-found awakening.
I miss my paternal grandmother, my supportive paternal family (with the exclusion of my mean ol’ dad). They were the only family members that treated me right, and for that I am eternally grateful. If not for them, I might have lost faith in myself and in humanity. I might have offed myself a long time ago. But they made me strong. They were there for me in my formative years. They taught me self worth and courage. And now my grandmother is dead, I know she is all around me now. I will never be alone.
Today I had a really… kind of a fall-out with my husband.
Bitchy words were exchanged over some petty shit. We were both pissed off with each other. And he started going on about how he’s leaving now. As in LEAVING.
I was thinking to myself : Oh well. Do it then. Maybe it’s all for the best.
And I refused to look at him.
He said bye to everyone. But my two daughters didn’t bother to answer. They were engrossed in playing a game on the computer. He then asked my eldest does she want to go to choir? She said “I don’t know.” Which is cryptic for “I don’t really want to go but I will if you insist.” He started going on to her about whether it’s like, her intention to become a loser just like him. She was unmoved. Continued playing the game on the computer. So he went on and… I think he was trying to rile me up right there, but he then said “Do you really want to be a loser like your mum?” Well I refused to answer to that low blow there. And she remained unmoved too. My son was the only one who said bye to him as he prepared to exit the flat.
Then he was gone for a long time. In the meanwhile, I felt calm. Remembering what I just said yesterday about “There is nothing to lose in life.”… so that made me feel calm. I didn’t feel an acute sense of loss when he threatened to leave and left.
But as I thought about dinner tonight, I felt a bit of a knot forming in my heart. Just a teeny knot. I was concerned about my kids not being able to eat a proper homecooked dinner. Then I remembered we had baking potatoes in the fridge. And baked beans in the cupboard. And a used block of Cathedral City cheddar in the fridge. Idea was formed. Tonight we shall be having baked potatoes with beans and cheese for dinner.
That solved the issue of dinner.
As I made dinner, I thought about what I should do if he never returned. Bearing in mind that he’s done this many times in the past before whenever we quarrelled. So that’s not new. Might explain a little why I didn’t feel shocked when he threatened.
Who knows right? One day we might divorce. But as long as the kids are still young and need us to be there for them, I have qualms about divorcing.
Alright, I’ll put my hands up here and admit we never had a smooth relationship from the start. We were always quibbling. Never the lovey-dovey sort. When the going’s great, it’s great. I don’t know how we managed to survive 3 kids, 1 traumatic hospital birth for the eldest child, and 2 fantastic homebirths that followed subsequently, University, 8 moves across the country in 10 years, no family or friends around to help for most of the time (we were unable to establish roots anywhere because we moved so much), and his salary went up almost double in the last 10 years of moving around for his career. Was it worth it? Maybe… maybe not.
I’m a headstrong woman. And I’m afraid I’ve become complacent. I’ve gotten used to a certain living standard with him. And I’m not ready to throw in the towel because of it. The kids love him and love having him still being around. If we divorce, the good thing is the kids will not see us quibbling anymore (well maybe not so much, but I guess we’d still quibble whenever we have to meet during weekend pickups and stuff)…The bad thing(s) however, is that our living standards will drop and I won’t be able to buy my kids the things they like anymore. And my kids will miss his constant presence day-in day-out.
And if I’m being honest, I’ll miss him too. I don’t know if I’ll miss the bickering. But I’ll miss the good times, that’s for sure.
And you know what?
10 minutes after we’d finished dinner.. he came home with a huge load of groceries. More than we needed. He bought loads of nice stuff we like. And there was no attitude. No pissy words from him. I felt glad to see him, but I avoided looking at him completely. (I know I know, I’m too proud and it’ll do me in.) I left him the biggest, ginormous baked potato I’d made earlier on, in case he hadn’t eaten anything while he was out. He did not touch it at all and I thought : Okay, maybe he’s eaten already when he was out. Or maybe he is still upset with me and doesn’t want to eat the food I cooked. Fair enough.
But an hour later, he asked the kids “Have you guys eaten already or what? Aren’t you hungry?”
And my kids replied “We’ve already eaten.”
And then he said “Oh, so that potato is for me?”
And he started heating up his baked potato and ate it.
I felt happy he was eating it though.
But I still avoided looking at him, and he at me.
Soon after, I put the kids to bed at 9.30pm.
We largely stayed out of each other’s sight for the rest of the night after that. I stayed in my bedroom surfing on the tablet. He stayed in the lounge watching telly.
Around midnight, I decided to go wash my hair because it hasn’t been washed today and feels minging. I bathed and then went out to the living room to see he had dozed off on the couch. I go and turn on my laptop to do surveys (yes it’s my main way of earning extra money these days because I really don’t have much other time to spare caring for 3 young ones). He woke up on the couch and said to me “I’m going to the bed to sleep. Goodnight.”
I said “Goodnight.” And I felt glad.
Because this meant… we made up. And did I mention before that this happens quite often? I suppose we are the equivalent of an “On-Off relationship” couple, except we are married and have kids, and have little intention of divorcing while the kids are still young.
Today I found a way out of selfishness. All day I was wondering what was gonna be for dinner as there was nothing left in the fridge. I was telling my husband he should buy takeaways. I was just gaming all day long as my kids did, and didn’t feel like budging from my seat. Then this niggling thought in my head that we should really be saving money, not spending. And then an idea popped up in my head of making brown rice. So I made my usual brown rice in creamy condensed soup thingy with cupboard stuff like spam and freezer stuff like peas. Worked well. Kids loved it. Well, sort of. Me and Bunnus loved it.
And then I realised that all it took for me to spring into action rather than sit playing games and letting the world go by was to just suddenly get the idea of what I COULD do (i.e. the soupy rice with spam and peas idea), and just doing it. I got up from my game-playing seat as lightly as if my next plan of action was always meant to be. It felt predestined. It felt natural.
Only on hindsight did I realise what I did was an act of kindness. Of course it is kindness to cook for your husband and children. Of course it is kindness to save Bunnus the trouble of having to go out of the house to buy takeaways after he’d had a long day of working at home sewing up the cushions for the caravan he bought to take us all camping in comfort. The man had been working since last weekend, fervently, to get this finished. And yes it finally is finished. And he’s knackered.
Now I can’t believe I’m actually writing about something as boring and mundane as making a dinner for a family. But the way this situation fits a fact-of-life analogy is just epiphanic. One thing led to another, and… … it just felt right.
So I’ve found that whenever I’ve acted kindly, it’s most heartfelt when it comes naturally. When I feel I’ve got nothing to lose by doing it.
So then… maybe that’s the thing here.
People do kind things because they feel they’ve got nothing to lose by doing them. Some people even, gain from it in the form of happiness – yes, some people actually feel happy from being kind. I have to admit I am not that kind of person. Maybe because I’m so damaged from my abusive childhood – thanks Mum. And the fact that I absolutely am too stubborn and cynical to be brainwashed by any religion to believe that being kind is THE way to a good life.
It’s a mindset more than anything in reality. For who is to say you won’t lose anything when you do something? You’ll always lose something – be it time that can be spent on something else, money, effort, etc. But I suppose that’s a wrong way to think. To think that anything in life is finite. To be afraid of loss is to believe that everything you possess is finite. But how wrong we’d be to think we even possess anything in this life. We never asked to be born. And everything we get in life is handed to us just … like this. Like the way life deals out each and every one of our cards for us. From the moment we were born, without our consent.